By Pinjra Tod:
After many decades, Hindu College in Delhi University has finally opened a women’s hostel, which is indeed a welcome step. However, after scanning the women’s hostel prospectus, Pinjra Tod is appalled at how regressive and discriminatory this new hostel is going to be. The college administration has clearly stated that women residents are definitely not to have the same rights as their male counterparts, but their lives and every movement are to be constantly regulated, controlled and limited.
While the Hindu men’s hostel (which is very old) is famous for having barely any regulations, this new women’s hostel would definitely qualify for having some of the most stringent and ridiculous rules on campus. To add to the horrid regimes of surveillance, the fees of this new women’s hostel is three times that of the men’s hostel which is absolutely unacceptable (the excuse of ‘facilities’ of AC and Wi-Fi is not reason enough, no!). Why must women students pay more just to be imprisoned? Access to affordable non-discriminatory accommodation is a right of every student in the university.
So, a male resident of the Hindu Hostel can go and do what he may like in whatever hour of the day or night. On the other hand, a woman hosteller will have to be back by 8.30 p.m. every day, duly mark her attendance in a register, dressed in what is the “normal norms of society”. She is not to watch TV in the common room beyond 10.30 p.m. She must sit in silence in her room, walk around in silence in the corridors and after 11 p.m., lock herself up in her own room and not dare to entertain any thoughts of “loitering” inside the hostel. She is to be allowed to venture out into the night till 10 p.m. twice a month, and be let out of the hostel for a ‘night-out’ once a month, after she has furnished “letters of request” from her parents/local guardians, secured the warden’s permission and duly signed on various registers.
Like a good woman, she must keep her room “neat, fresh and tidy” at all times. In this room of her own, she must be prepared for the possibility of the warden barging in at any time for a “check”. Like a decent obedient woman, she is to only entertain visitors who have been ‘approved’ by her parents and no other. She should not ever dare to sneak in a day scholar woman classmate to her room. Such acts of ‘indiscipline’ will not be tolerated.
For participating in extra-curricular activities inside or outside the college, she will need the permission of the warden and she must remember to sign the “in-campus” and “out-campus” registers. Unless, she has pleased the warden with her good womanly behaviour, she may not even be able to offer tuitions for an independent income to support herself or enrol in coaching classes to prepare for entrance exams or participate in an inter-college debating tournament that runs into the night (as the warden’s permission is essential for all of these instances).
And yes, she must pay three times more than her male counterparts for all these ‘privileges’.
The administration of Hindu College could have pioneered the way in framing emancipatory guidelines for its new women’s hostel. Instead, it has dug its own grave and fired us even more in our struggle against these pinjras (cages) that the university imposes on us. Oh, Hindu admin, prepare yourself for the ‘unrest’ of women’s rage that will soon unfurl itself in your new hostel!
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